C-Suite: Making claims fit for a digital era

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There is a still much work ahead for insurance companies to bring claims into the digital era writes Alson Ong.

Claims management is information-intensive, and requires multiple customer and third-party interactions. The timely collection of documents and accurate information takes a disproportionate amount of effort and can cause significant anxiety in the minds of policyholders.

Some challenges are all too common. For instance, the insurer's preferred channel isn't necessarily the policyholder's preferred channel. It may be impractical for a policyholder to call a claims line, or inconvenient to mail an original receipt in order to process a claim.

Legacy claims management systems often lack the agility to handle new methods of customer engagement. Introducing mobile goes beyond extending desktop web portal screens - policyholders should be empowered to use smartphones as their preferred channel.

Existing claims and policy administration silos also prevent sharing or re-using information. In worst case situations, administrative personnel are required to re-key information between systems or between email/CRM and back office applications. This approach introduces errors, frustration and additional costs, in addition to switching resources from high impact customer service tasks to low value-add data entry.

Given the nature of insurance claims, validation and thorough facts verification is unsurprising. However, an overcomplicated process can damage the insurer's brand because the policyholder believes the organisation is putting up barriers to timely payout.

According to EY, shifting customer preferences and new competitive pressures require that insurers respond with speed and agility. Hence, the need arises to simplify systems, processes and structures, in order to achieve enterprise data excellence.

There are five ways to improve the claims submission process.

A 100% digital strategy is imperative; this means nudging policyholders and business partners to initially submit information in non-paper, digital form. When information is digitised, its core data set can be identified, extracted and verified. The core data should be enhanced with meta-data and made textual for searching and analysis.

An omnichannel data capture approach is also essential. Early stages of claims processes typically involve multiple interactions and are information intensive. Policyholders should have the option to use the most suitable mechanism for the required action.

It is also advisable to adopt a "mobile first" strategy. The ubiquity of mobile devices means consumer-oriented claims processes should, at the very least, support these devices. An omnichannel approach must allow access to mobile-specific capabilities such as cameras, mobile data networks and location services.

Automation will also be key: the elimination of non-value-add tasks is critical to deliver scalability, and achieve omnichannel and more complex capabilities. Automation also helps enable 24/7 operation and self-service (for example, the submission of claims documents via a mobile device can be enhanced instantly by verification of data contained within the document). This approach and capability delivers the potential for an excellent customer experience.

If possible perform process analytics in near real time - if a process can't be measured, it can't be fixed. Sophisticated analytics solutions are required where processes are extensive, complex and need near real time monitoring. Analytics can also provide an essential quality feedback loop ensuring that process automation driven by customers' responses and data is optimised for the changing needs.

Insurance companies are characterised by highly complex, information-intensive processes. Digitalisation such as advanced capture of information combined with mobile and analytics can help insurers to transform and streamline information-intensive customer interactions.

Using a variety of these options can shorten claims processing times, reduce the cost of claims management, help adapt to changing compliance requirements and means insurance companies can become more responsive to policyholders.

Alson Ong, pictured, is vice president - solutions, Asia-Pacific for Kofax

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